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CALL TO WORSHIP: Psalm 1
1 Blessed are the ones who walk not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers; 2 but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law they meditate day and night. 3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, that yield their fruit in its season, and their leaf does not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
HYMN 251 Go Tell It On the Mountain
Home Free & Texas Hill – Go Tell It On The Mountain
Lynda Randle – Go Tell It On the Mountain [Live]
A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)
Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer:
Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help.
I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life.
Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not.
Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature.
Help me to serve you as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.
Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
HYMN 224 Good Christian Friends Rejoice
Good Christian Men Rejoice | Christmas Lyric Video | Reawaken Hymns
MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!
GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.
MESSAGE: Forward, Faithfully
Text: Psalm 1, Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 11:12-25, Galatians 6:7
Series: People Get Ready
Psalm 1:1 Blessed are the ones who walk not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers; 2 but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law they meditate day and night. 3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, that yield their fruit in its season, and their leaf does not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Matthew 28:16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
Mark 11:12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
19 And when evening came they went out of the city. 20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Master, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
HYMN 572 Pass It On
Pass It On – Ellinwood-Malate Church Vesper Choir
BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!
From this day forward, the fact that Jesus is here means that we have an opportunity to do a new thing, to live a new life, to make the world a new and better place. Why? Because Jesus is here. As the hymn says, “No more let sins and sorrows grow or thorns infest the ground. He comes at Christmas. Jesus comes to us to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.”
This picture is a picture of the sun coming up at dawn over the Sea of Galilee. And in Matthew chapter 4, it talks about how Jesus coming into our world is like light coming into the darkness of the world. Light has dawned. Verse 17, “From that day, Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent,'” which is a word most of us don’t think about much. But repent means it’s time for things to be different. It’s time for things to be better. No more let sins and sorrows grow. No more let thorns infest the ground because the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God is at hand and ready.
We began our service this morning with reading Psalm 1. Let me tell you about the day that Psalm 1 made sense to me. My younger brother, Brian – he’s 18 months younger than I am – decided that he wanted to become a licensed pilot. And there came a time when I was in college. I think it was 1975. It was around that time. In order to get his certification, he needed two people to get on an airplane with him and go up in the air and fly around Champaign, Illinois. For some reason, I do not understand, he had great difficulty finding two people who were willing to get up in an airplane and go with him. But I was a person who had great faith.
And so when he invited me, my father and I got in the rear seat of the plane. And we went up and started flying over the farm fields around Wright Field, southwest of Champaign, Illinois. Now Champaign, if you’re familiar with it – it’s where I grew up – is as flat as a pancake. And consequently, there’s nothing that would cause you to have a road that has a curve. Literally – every rural road in Champaign County, as far as I know, is a straight line. They’re exactly one mile apart.
And so there I am up in the sky flying over this grid of one-mile square country roads. And inside the country roads are farmers’ fields with all different sorts of things growing in them. And then this was in the spring. And I noticed through almost every field, there was a curvy, dark line. And I said to myself, “What is that?” There came a moment when we flew a little bit lower, and I saw what you see in the picture below, the dark line was a line of trees. And I thought to myself, “Why in the world would an idiot plant a line of trees through the middle of a field? And when we flew a little lower, I realized that the trees were planted along the side of a creek. And all of a sudden this psalm made sense.
Psalm 1 says, “Blessed are those who do not do these three things, but who do something that’s very important and very meaningful: their delight is in the law of the Lord. And the law of the Lord is where what God says, instructs us, informs us, teaches us, guides us, helps us; it’s like having a recipe to follow with regard to life. But their delight is in hearing God’s word, in other words. And on His word, they meditate day and night. Now, that could mean all day long, and all night long, but it’s more likely to mean first thing in the morning, last thing at night.
And here’s what happens when you do that: They are like trees planted by streams of water. They yield their fruit in its season and their leaf does not wither. And then comes this promise: in all that they do, they prosper. Now, it’s the same sun that shines down on every plant. It’s the same dirt in which every plant is growing. But if you have deep roots, if you have deep roots that go down into water, you have resources that the rest of what’s growing there does not. And if you meditate on what God wants to say to you, you will have deep roots down into God’s truth. And it will be a resource to help you in all of your life.
Kim was listening to a documentary on the dust bowl on PBS the other day. What an astonishing thing. They went out and started farming in Kansas and Oklahoma and elsewhere with methods of farming that destroyed the roots. And as a result, the wind began to blow. There’s always wind. And the soil was loose, it was not held in place like it needed to be, and you got dust storms like in the picture here.
Verse 4 in Psalm 1 puts it this way, “The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.” Friends, there is always going to be wind. There is always going to be wind. And what they would do with reaping is they would put the heads of the grain on flat stones and they would have oxen walk over them and it would separate the kernel of the seeds from the hulls or the chaff, and there you would have this big mess of them all mixed together. Now, how do you separate that? Do you take one seed out at a time? What they would actually do is they would just take it and they would throw it up in the air. And the wind blows away what has no substance. The wind blows away what has no substance. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. So you want your roots to go down deep into God’s living water so that you can be fruitful.
This is a scripture about answered prayer. Mark 11:12, on the following day when they came from Bethany he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. This is a picture of a fig tree by the side of the road. Now, here’s the interesting thing. When he came to the fig tree looking for figs, he found nothing but leaves. You know why? It was not the season for figs. You wouldn’t expect any figs to be there in the wrong season.
And then Jesus says, because all of this is to make a point, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. And when evening came, they went out of the city, and as they passed by in the morning going from Bethany back into Jerusalem, they saw that the fig tree had withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Master, look. The fig tree which you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered to him, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea and does not doubt in his heart— and does not doubt in his heart. And does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass,” notice the next words, “it will be done for him.” This is a pretty dramatic statement for Jesus to say, but he’s teaching a lesson here about faith. “Therefore, I tell you,” Jesus says, “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” Oh, and one more thing. “And whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone so that your father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.“
Let me tell you a story from my life. Many, many years ago, I think this was in the winter of 1993. It was a gloomy, rainy day. I was driving around the wealthiest neighborhood in Quincy, Illinois, where all the really big, brand-new, fancy houses were. And it was a difficult time for me. I was in a difficult marriage. And I was listening to a book on tape that was encouraging me and trying to give me hope. And the guy on the tape, I don’t even remember who it was, said I want you to do something. I want you to pull over to the side of the road right now if you’re driving. If you’re at home, I want you to go and get a piece of paper and sit down and I want you to write down what it is you would like to receive. Now, he didn’t mention prayer because this wasn’t a religious book on tape. But he said, just take the piece of paper and write down what you would like to receive. And he said there’s a couple of conditions here. The first one is you have to be clear and specific. For example, don’t write down debt free, you have to list each credit card you need to pay off because you have to be clear and specific. The second thing is you only list outcomes because you have no idea how the universe is going to meet that need. And you don’t want to tie the hands of the universe by saying that this and this and this has to happen, in order to meet that need. Now, what we would say is you don’t want to tie God’s hands. Let God figure out the best way to answer a prayer.
So I made my list right there by the side of the road. I listed every debt. If you can read that vague print, I asked for a new car. And feeling a little guilty, I asked for a new car for my wife. And to pay off all the various debts and various other things. We owned our own home, so there was a second mortgage to pay off. There was furnace and air conditioner repair. We needed a new furnace. We needed a new washing machine. We needed a whole bunch of things repaired. They’re all listed there. And I added up in my mind how much money this would take and not counting the cars. It was going to be $70,000. And I said, “Well, this is good. This is great. This will be wonderful. This happens.” And the guy on the tape said, “Now you go home and you put that in a drawer and don’t look at it for a year.” And I did.
A lot of things happened in between then. My wife and I had a conversation about the kind of house she wanted to live in because that’s why I was driving around that neighborhood trying to inspire myself. She wanted, she said, To not be living in a house that had a basement. Everything needed to be on one floor. She was tired of going downstairs to do the laundry. We had three sons. She wanted a separate bedroom for each son. And she wanted a really nice master bathroom off the master bedroom. And I said, “Well, what else would you like?” Well, our garage, there’s one door and you can get two cars in there, but there’s barely room to walk. I’d like a decent sized two car garage. Oh, and she said, “An oak kitchen.” Now, I never wrote those things down, but they were on my mind.
And around that time, the Mississippi River decided to flood. And I’d been in Quincy for 9 years and my DS said to me, David, “The church needs you to move to a new church.” And I thought about it. I prayed about it. I finally agreed with him. And so they moved us to a new church. July 1 of 1994, we moved into the parsonage at Pawnee, Illinois. Here’s a picture of it. It had been built and finished just about two years before we there, you notice the two-car garage? There were three bedrooms, one for each of my sons – now, they still fought with each other, but they didn’t have to share a bedroom. There was a master bath in the master bedroom. Oh, and the living room and family room were separate from each other. And there was even an oak kitchen. Everything in the house was no more than two years old. I was astonished.
We had a house to sell, how could I have known that there was equity in the house we owned enough to pay off all the debt we had? I didn’t know that. The realtor said to us, I can sell it in a week. We put it on the market in May and it didn’t sell. Long about August, he said, “You’re going to have to lower your price.” And I said, “No, let’s just hang on for a little bit because people are getting ready to send kids to school.” So we hung on and son of a gun, we did get our asking price. And we had the money to pay off all that debt.
Oh, and the new car? I hit a deer. Now, this is how you have to understand miracles. Miracles always don’t always seem like miracles because you don’t want to tie the hands of God. Sometimes the new car happens because you do something stupid. But I found that we could afford the car payment for a new car. And a few months later, my wife’s car wouldn’t start, the crankshaft had frozen. And I said to the people who repaired our cars, I said, “Well, how do we fix this?” And they said, “Well, you don’t. It’s going to the junkyard. It’s now worth $200.” But I found that we could afford the car payments for another new car … not the way I would have planned it. Not like finding a lottery ticket or something like that, but you know, if you don’t tie the hands of God, if you just simply list the outcomes, you can let God work and see what will happen.
There are two things on that list that never did happen because I found out we didn’t really want them. Being envious of other people, I wrote down a Disney World vacation for my kids in Florida. And in talking to them, I found out they’d much rather go to Six Flags 10 times than Disney World once, which costs less.
But you see, this was astonishing because you remember that card? When I was unpacking stuff in my new office in 1994, all of a sudden I pulled it out of a box and looked at it and I said, “Oh, my Lord.” Look what God had done with a list of hopes written on an index card.
Friends, it’s the New Year. It’s time for new things. I’ve given you a gift … in every bulletin there is an index card. It’s not as big as this one but you can use more than one if you want … maybe it’s time for you to make a list of your own. Maybe it’s time for you to make a list of what you would like to see God do at your house in your family in your life, in your town, in your state, in our world. Maybe it’s time.
Now the most embarrassing thing to me is … you see that index card of mine on the screen? If that was a lesson that had really taken, I would have immediately made out a new card for the new church in the new year. Because God’s not done answering prayers. But it just seemed like such a holy sacred moment, that I really have not done that since. But I’m thinking to myself … this year, this year is the time, this year is the time for you and I to ask God for clear, specific things, and then turn God loose to work in our lives, and in our church, and in our town.
Because prayers are like seeds. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” God created the world so that if in the spring you put corn in the ground, you are not going to be astonished that soybeans came up in the fall. God so created the world that if you put beans in the ground, you are not going to be surprised by the fact that in the fall, corn is coming up.
You and I have a lot of control over what happens in our life because a great deal of what happens comes from the seeds that we sow, so here’s the principle: If at the beginning of this year, 2023, you don’t like what you’re reaping, if you don’t like what’s growing in your life, maybe you should track back and consider changing what you’re sowing.
Is it time for a change in how you pray and what you’re praying for? And remember, Psalm 1, with roots deep into God’s word, God’s word informs you of how to pray and what to pray … and in all that they do, they prosper. That Psalm is talking about prayers and how God answers prayers when people work.
So I think it’s time for a change. Last week, I shared this poem with you. It’s a beautiful thing you read it on Christmas cards. I don’t know if it’s really sunk in. It talks about Jesus who was born in one obscure village that nobody had ever heard of and he grew up in another obscure one that nobody ever heard of, and he never wrote a book. He never went to college. He never had anything that famous people had. He was betrayed and murdered and buried in the ground in a borrowed grave because he didn’t own anything except the clothes he was wearing.
But the man who wrote the prayer, the man who wrote this poem said, “Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today Jesus is the central figure of the human race, the central figure of human history, so much so that we literally count the time from before He got here and what happened after. Jesus is the leader of mankind’s progress. And all the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments, politicians that have ever sat, all the kings that have ever reigned put together have not affected the life of mankind on earth as powerfully as that one solitary life.
Now, friends, you know that’s true. Jesus changed the whole world. But think for a moment about how He changed the world. Jesus was born in an obscure village, Bethlehem. He was raised in an obscure village of Nazareth. He died on a hill outside of– in terms of world and the empire of Rome, an obscure place called Golgotha. And He rose from the dead. And if that was all, Jesus would have remained unknown and in obscurity.
But you know what Jesus spent his three years of ministry doing? He raised up 12 people, who raised up 70 people, such that in the Upper Room after He rose from the dead, there were 120 people. And when the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost, 2,000 people were baptized. And within a matter of a few weeks, the size of the early Church was around 15,000 people. And that’s what’s happened. Today, the different denominations that make up the Christian Church are the largest religious group in the entire world.
So what is it that has made Jesus this great figure of life and history-changing? It’s because He changed human lives, and those people participated and cooperated with God. And the change of human lives continued to spread out from them, spread out from them over all the centuries and over all the world. And friends, it’s still spreading out from the people who let Jesus change their lives.
And by the way, today, those people are people like you and me who are in this church on Sunday morning. The reason that Jesus is the central figure of the human race is because of what Jesus is still doing in the lives of the people of God, people just like you and me. What the world needs most, I told you last week, is a Savior, and we do have one. Jesus is the Savior.
But what Jesus needs most is people who will pray and obey.
Now, you can get really fancy about what Church needs. You can buy all kinds of books. I know – I bought all the books. But pretty simply, it boils down to this: If you’re a person who is willing to pray and have faith and obey and walk by faith, Jesus can change your world … no more let sins and sorrows grow. May our world begin anew this year. As people of faith, pray and obey.
Lord Jesus, help us morning and evening to delight in what you want to say to us. Let us be like people who have roots that go down deep into living water. And from those roots, Lord, we pray that You would not only bless us but bless everyone around us so that Your truth and Your love and Your forgiveness and Your grace might flow outward from every Christian, might flow outward from every church, might flow outward into every community until the whole world says, “Thank you, Jesus.” And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?
What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis